The Zebra Family Tree

Everyone knows the zebra as the horse like creature that has black and white stripes. But what most people don’t know is that horses, donkeys and zebras are all part of one huge family known as the Equid family.

The Equid Family

Equid is the scientific term referring to the group that is made up of related animals. These are horses, donkeys and zebras. Unlike the first two, zebras live in the wild as they are not domesticated.

Scientific terms

To better understand the zebra family, you will need to know some biological terminology.

Genus–this is the biological word used to describe a group of organisms with the same characteristics.

Subgenus: this is simply the genus subgroup.

Equus: scientific word for the zebra genus.

Hippotigris: Equus sub group that contains different zebra species.

Dolichohippus: Another Equus sub group containing zebra species.


Zebras are believed to have come from the early horse with the first species being the Grevy’s. Then after that, other species started emerging

Different types of zebras

Most animals, if not all, have different species and this is true for zebras as well. There are two sub-groups under the equus genus, hippotigris and dolichohippus. Two of the main zebra species are found under the hippotigris sub group and one under the dolichohippus sub group.

The three main species

The Plains and Mountain zebra species are the two found in the Hippotigris subgenus and the Grevy’s is the only one in the Dolichohippus subgenus. Even though these are the main ones, there are other species that are rarely talked about or extinct.

The Plains and Mountain zebras

The Plains zebra also known as the Burchell’s zebra and the mountain zebra also known as the Hartman zebra both travel in small groups of seven; one male and six females. The bonds of these zebras are very close and tight.

The Grevy’s zebra

This particular specie is known to be the largest and travel in larger herds. Unlike the first two, the social bonds are not close and tight as the individual zebras don’t live together for a long time.


The plains zebra is the most common, non-endangered and is found in southern and east Africa. The mountain zebra on the other hand, is only found in southwest Africa and is endangered. Last but not least, the Grevy’s is found in northern Kenya and Ethiopia and is most definitely endangered.